No further action was taken on the complaint. She has applied for council housing but so far has not been offered anything. She is still being subjected to violence by her partner but, as long as she is working from home, she refuses to leave. For her, "Staying put in my home is also a way of fighting back". The French State has undeniably taken some steps towards improving its response to the issue of domestic violence.
However, coordination, will and resources are still lacking which means that such measures are applied in a very ad hoc way throughout the country. The procedures women have to go through to get access to justice remain slow and complex and, when confronted with them, they are often discouraged by what appears to them to be an obstacle course. It should be remembered that the State has an obligation to ensure that such violence does not go unpunished, that the victims obtain reparation and that, in addition, there is a genuine change of attitude among professionals as well as the general public.
Over the past twenty years, the State has taken numerous steps to bring its legislation into line with the principles of international law and human rights relating to the struggle against discrimination and violence against women in France. However, it was only in , when the new Criminal Code came into force, that the seriousness of domestic violence was acknowledged through the introduction of an aggravating circumstance that applies in the event that the spouse or partner of the victim uses criminal violence at the time of an incident. Today a growing number of women are daring to break their silence to denounce the violence they face from their partner.
However, the shortcomings in the justice system, indeed the lack of response from the courts, reinforce the perpetrators' sense of impunity as well as the idea that justice stops at the entrance to the home. By doing so, it changes attitudes and shapes culture. The law therefore has both a symbolic and educational function. It helps to encourage genuine prevention work directed at youth and to mould the behaviour of future generations". In actual fact, numerous obstacles still stand in the way of these women being recognized as victims. In the follow-up to international meetings on the issue of women's rights, in particular after the Fourth World Conference on Women's Rights in , and then in 19 , France has taken some measures at a legislative level and in connection with the work of professionals in order to fight more effectively against domestic violence.
A specialized administration has been set up by the French State to deal with women's rights and equality. The work done by these commissions and how dynamic they are can vary considerably from region to region. It concludes that the service has relatively limited resources and that its work throughout the country as a whole is variable.
The IGAS report stresses that greater effectiveness would be possible but only if there were a genuine coordinated and integrated policy which placed equal opportunities at the heart of all State action and did not make do with individual actions. In this connection, the Plan global de lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes : 10 mesures pour l'autonomie des femmes , Comprehensive Plan for Tackling Violence Against Women : 10 Steps towards Women's Autonomy, launched by Nicole Ameline, the former Minister for Equal Opportunities, is an important step in the direction of adopting a coordinated strategy at national level.
Under this action plan, emphasis would be placed on the provision of housing, professional support and security to victims and the allocation of resources to specialist organizations, as well as on information-gathering and the prevention of violence against women. While it is still somewhat too soon to comment on the specific results of the plan, it is not too soon to regret that it has not been followed up with action coordinated across the different ministries.
It continues to be a strategy taken up essentially by the regional women's rights offices which often have very limited human and financial resources.
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In order for such a plan to be genuinely effective, it is crucial that it is adopted at an inter-ministerial level, taken up by all public authorities and given proper budgetary provision. It has gone from being a ministerial office with over 20 people to a department of four people with Catherine Vautrin at its head. On 23 November , Catherine Vautrin submitted a document to the Council of Ministers outlining the main areas of work scheduled for and reporting on the results of the work undertaken in the year just ended.
Several examples of good practice are mentioned, including emergency accommodation voucher schemes and initiatives on reintegration. However, they cannot be seen as coordinated effective action at a national level. The communication also lists four measures to support the victims of violence.
The first measure, inspired by the shelter scheme used for elderly people and the disabled, concerns accommodation: the proposal is to place women who have suffered violence with host families who would be remunerated for taking them in. Several organizations have already expressed reservations about a system which is likely to treat women as children rather than increase the resources allocated to existing accommodation facilities. The second measure concerns the setting in place of more effective medical care in eight departments within metropolitan France.
The third measure concerns the strengthening of sanctions against the perpetrators of violence and the fourth consists of a proposal to distribute 8, copies of a support booklet, which would also be available on the internet, to all professionals. These measures show that recognition of the issue has improved but they are still not enough to ensure that there is a national strategy to prevent domestic violence, punish the perpetrators and protect the victims.
In particular, the plan does not address the question of speedier and more effective handling of such cases by the courts, the question of accommodation and alternative solutions for women who have suffered violence, the monitoring of protection measures and, lastly, the question of the financial, material and human resources that are necessary for rigorous and uniform implementation throughout the whole country.
Other ministries, such as the Justice and Interior Ministries, have also taken action on this issue. The guide, which is complete and practical and has been distributed to all public prosecutors' offices, is not binding and professionals within the health service and police as well as social services are still largely unaware of its existence. However, this number does not deal specifically with domestic violence but provides a sympathetic ear and advice to all victims of any type of breach of the French Criminal Code. Though interesting, this campaign is a good illustration of the lack of coordination between the different resources that already exist.
In France, women who have been subjected to domestic violence can seek justice either by means of criminal prosecution, which allows the perpetrator to be punished and the victim to be awarded compensation, or through a civil action, which allows the consequences of the breakdown in a couple's relationship to be resolved. Many cases of violence against women will never be prosecuted in a criminal court, either because the woman did not lodge a complaint or because the complaint came to nothing.
On the other hand, married women who have suffered violence at the hands of their husband, can access a divorce procedure allowing them be separated from the perpetrator of the violence. This procedure is not always enough to put an end to the violence since separation can sometimes lead to renewed violence but divorce is often seen as the only possibility for women who do not wish to have their husband brought before a criminal court or, at least at the time the violence occurs, are not ready to do so.
Divorce by mutual consent : the least contentious form, in that the couple make a joint application for divorce and at the same time submit an agreement regarding the divorce settlement. Divorce resulting from acceptance that the marriage has broken down : this can be requested by one or both parties, without taking into consideration what may have led to the breakdown.
The judge grants the divorce if convinced that the two parties have freely consented to it. Divorce resulting from definitive deterioration of the marriage bond : this can be requested by either party, once the couple have been living apart for at least two years. Divorce on grounds of misconduct : this can be requested by one of the parties when the other party is alleged to have seriously or repeatedly breached their marriage duties and obligations.
It is in these kinds of cases that domestic violence can appear as a ground for misconduct justifying a divorce. In the context of divorce on grounds of misconduct, the violence suffered by one of the parties can be taken into account. This procedure is still complicated and often slow. It is difficult to obtain evidence of the violence, especially if there is no parallel criminal prosecution. Given the complexity and slowness of this process and also because they are concerned about the risk of reprisals from their husband, women can be reluctant to seek divorce on grounds of misconduct, as in the case of lodging a complaint.
Before the entry into force of the law dated 26 May 23 , a judge could already take emergency measures once an application for divorce had been received. Since the new rules came into effect, namely since 1 January , the law specifically states that, in the event "of violence committed by one of the spouses putting the other spouse or a child or children in danger, a judge can rule that the couple should live apart, making it clear which of the two should continue to reside in the marital home.
Other than in special circumstances, the home is allocated to the spouse who is not the perpetrator of the violence". Prior to , family court judges could only rule on allocation of the marital home at the time of the conciliation hearing in the presence of the two parties. Now, in the context of an emergency procedure and regardless of any divorce proceedings, a family court judge can, at the request of the victim, order the removal of the violent spouse. These measures concern use of the marital home, the exercise of parental authority and how much each spouse should contribute to the marital expenses.
Having their husband removed from the home is not, however, always the route women would choose to go down to bring about a split. The marital home may be associated with the violence in that it is seen as the place where it occurred. In such a set-up, women have no personal space, they are part of the man's property and possessions ".
This law only came into effect on 1 January and it is therefore hard to assess what effect it has had on domestic violence. Nevertheless, some weaknesses can already be identified. It was not accompanied by the establishment of an effective and systematic mechanism for ensuring that such measures are followed up, especially with the provision of protection and support to the victim.
Any such system should be developed in conjunction not only with the police service but also with a partnership network of organizations and others with specialist knowledge of the issue. In itself, having the husband removed by a judge may not therefore be enough to end the violence. Amnesty International believes that this measure should be accompanied by a genuine strategy for protecting the victim and punishing the perpetrator which, among other things, would allow for better coordination between the way cases are handled in the criminal courts and in the civil courts, especially where protection of the victim is concerned.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that only married women are affected by these new arrangements. Since the introduction of the new Criminal Code in , being a spouse or cohabitee is deemed to be an aggravating circumstance in the case of some violent offences. The main benefit of this amendment to the Criminal Code is that domestic violence is now a crime even if it does not result in the granting of ITT. It means that women can lodge a complaint even when there are no physical effects of the violence or they are no longer visible.
Thus, once there is domestic violence, it must be considered an offence. Emine was killed by her ex-husband, Osman, after she had obtained a divorce and then twice lodged a complaint for violence and threats. In the divorce came through but he went on harassing her, "laying siege to her home, following her and assaulting her when she went out". In the autumn of , Osman reappeared and mounted guard in the street where she lived for several days.
At the Strasbourg police headquarters, the unit responsible for dealing with intrafamily violence, a single body operating throughout France, confirmed that she had filed several complaints On 31 January, thinking that Osman was no longer in Strasbourg, she left her home. That is when he killed her.
It happened in mid-afternoon outside of the nursery school attended by the youngest of their three children, just a few metres from the flat where she lived almost as a recluse. Osman was arrested in a nearby tearoom. He was covered in blood and did not resist arrest. According to witnesses quoted in the press, he simply said, "That's it, I've killed this woman.
That's it, I did it". The threat hanging over women who have suffered domestic violence is real and a genuine protection system needs to be put in place in order to ensure their safety. However, as pointed out in the Criminal Prosecution Guide on tackling domestic violence, "at the investigation stage, there is no juridical framework within the Criminal Code for allowing the accused to be restrained from having contact with the victim or forcing him to remove himself from the marital home".
In such cases the perpetrator receives no punishment as long as he complies with certain obligations laid down by the judge. The judge can also rule on whether it is necessary for the perpetrator to be monitored by an organization providing support to the perpetrators of violence. I am obliged to state that, in such a context, many cases of serious violence or deaths resulting from fatal blows could be prevented if the public prosecutor's office were to intervene at the first sign of violence".
Any indication of domestic violence has to be followed up. The perpetrators are systematically arrested for questioning. They are regularly monitored by an organization that provides victim support and undertakes judicial supervision and which also supports the women involved. The same organization will continue to monitor him to ensure that he does not reoffend. Speed is at the heart of the intervention of the Douai public prosecutor's office, with the perpetrator being brought to court swiftly rather than in two or even three months' time as is usually the case.
It also places stress on monitoring the perpetrator and supporting the victim. Undoubtedly encouraged by the high media profile this penal policy has acquired, more and more women are daring to break their silence. Other cases of good practice exist in France. More and more public prosecutor's offices and police services are putting strategies in place to improve their handling of domestic violence. However, such initiatives are not always coordinated between the different authorities involved and these examples are certainly still rare enough to attract attention.
They rely on the initiative of individuals and the response of the justice system is very uneven across the country. Furthermore, a judicial response is not enough to stop such violence and put an end to impunity. The difficulties encountered by women who decide to leave and report a man who is often the person closest to them, sometimes the father of their children or someone for whom they still have feelings, touch on the complexity of human relationships. It is therefore necessary to take the scale of these difficulties into account and ensure that women have genuine alternatives and adequate support and that any allegations of violence are systematically dealt with by the courts.
The law adopted by the Spanish Government on 22 December on this issue has set an important precedent because, as well as prevention measures, it provides for the creation of courts specializing in violence against women in which one and the same judge can rule on both the civil aspects and the criminal aspects of a case involving such violence.
The advantage of this law is that the control and domination that operate within this type of violence are recognized in law. It also provides a coherent normative framework for fighting violence against women at a national level. On 25 November , the Spanish Vice-President, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, announced that the number of complaints of domestic violence filed in Spain had increased by 7. Such a proposal is all the more interesting in that it would allow the work being done on prevention, training, protection measures, punishment and support for women who have been threatened with or subjected to violence by a man within their circle to be linked up.
They go on taking the same old family background approach and sometimes contradict each other ".
As a rule, under French law civil and criminal procedures are separate. As long as it is followed up by the public prosecutor's office, this measure is a first step towards improving the connection between civil and criminal proceedings. It is also possible, in the context of divorce proceedings, for violence against a spouse to be recognized as a reason for divorce on grounds of misconduct without, nevertheless, the perpetrator being prosecuted in the criminal courts.
In this respect, it would be interesting to look at the possibility of any violence found in the course of civil proceedings being systematically reported to the public prosecutor's office. It should be possible for the criminal courts to act swiftly to have a spouse or cohabitee removed from the family home. On the other hand, women do not feel protected: they think that lodging a complaint will protect them, give them some peace, but the law does not afford that protection, it is there to punish.
They [criminal proceedings] need to be brought into line with civil procedures divorce, parental authority so that women and children can be protected in the marital home by, in certain cases, having the violent spouse removed". In French law, the rule on non-cumulation of sentences states that sentences of the same kind cannot be cumulative and that the perpetrator will therefore be judged on the most serious offence.
However, in the case of domestic violence, it is precisely an accumulation of humiliating, degrading and violent acts that go to make up the violence and it would not be easy to isolate one from another. If just one of these acts had to be isolated, it is not clear that it would in itself be sufficient to be characterized as violence, despite the aggravating circumstance from which marital violence benefits. However, this aggravating circumstance on its own seems insufficient to describe the specificity of such violence and Amnesty International believes that the introduction of the notion of habitual violence into the law would enable a better response to be made to domestic violence, both in terms of punishing the perpetrators and recognizing what the women involved have gone through.
As Aude Woillez, from SOS femmes , SOS Women, in Marseille, who is training to become a judge 42 , points out, "When a man commits violence against a woman with whom he has lived or with whom he has been in a couple relationship, such violence is never a trivial matter. It is almost always the continuation of a long series of violent incidents that began when the couple were together".
The provisions of the Criminal Code defining domestic violence do not include former spouses or cohabitees. A bill enabling the aggravating circumstance to be extended to "exes" is under discussion. It was unanimously adopted in the Senate on 23 November and tabled for discussion in the National Assembly on 13 December It would therefore appear that this amendment, which individuals and organizations involved with the issue have been hoping for many years, is about to be adopted.
Amnesty International can only encourage its adoption. It's all very well to say you have rights but what if it's not possible to have them enforced? It's not right The increase denotes an improvement in the way the justice system responds to this type of violence. However, the courts are still only dealing with a limited number of such cases. The FNSF alone is approached by about 36, women every year, mainly in connection with domestic violence, thus indicating the size of the phenomenon.
Non-governmental organizations are not the only ones to make this assessment. According to the Director General of the National Police, Michel Gaudin, domestic violence accounts for about 30 per cent of calls to local police stations and, in his words, "in the opinion of the services on the ground, such violence [ Of course the justice system cannot address types of violence for which it has not been given responsibility. The number of complaints lodged for domestic violence is not systematically recorded.
It is hard to make a definite assessment of the percentage of complaints which have been the subject of legal proceedings. The gathering of such statistics would not only allow the authorities to have firm figures on what they are dealing with but also to understand at what level of the justice system follow-up comes to a halt. It is left to each public prosecutor's office to decide on the "appropriate" follow-up to be given to any cases reported to it. This makes it inevitable that practice within the French justice system should vary.
This freedom can nevertheless be limited by directives from the State. Some public prosecutor's offices have used the leeway they have to set up schemes enabling them to tackle domestic violence in a systematic way. Though still too few, they prove indisputably that having a clear will to do something about it means that they are able to fight more effectively against such violence. Violent man: "That's not a person, that's my wife! The first obstacle that stands in the way of justice for women who have suffered domestic violence arises from the difficulty they have in lodging complaints.
They also find it harder to report brutality that takes place in private than that which takes place in a public place or their work place. If they end up leaving, or indeed if they report their violent partner, they expose themselves to the real risk of reprisals from him, including the possibility that he will try to kill them.
In addition, the police are not always trained to deal with women who have been subjected to domestic violence. When I went to the police, I heard someone say, "you did without society when you got together with this man and you will do without it when you leave him" Lack of information about their rights also helps to keep these women silent, or even in denial.
Nevertheless, getting the courts involved may help them to overcome their fear, become aware of their rights and rebuild their lives. Following a change of job, he moved to another town, terminated the contract on their rented home and told her she had to leave.
For two years I have been struggling with myself and the problems I have in finding work and getting off of income support contrats d'insertion RMI which [in the case of the overs] you have to reapply for every six months She no longer has any furniture and has been sleeping on a mattress for months.
When women do manage to get over the threats and their fears and decide to speak out, they face crucial issues such as their economic survival, housing, children. How can they find, go back to or keep a job, find accommodation and pay the rent, look after the children and make sure they are protected? They face material and practical considerations which make it very difficult for them to abandon their home and report their partner.
She left everything behind : 'a comfortable life, a nice house, A month and a half of wandering ensued: with her two three-year-old darlings, she ended up moving house seven times". When women decide to leave their partner, they come up against complicated procedures, which are often slow and difficult, causing them to become discouraged and even to give up. There are a certain number of organizations providing help in this area but they are unable to deal with every case. In addition to this isolation, the women have to endure repeating the details of the violence they have suffered to one professional after another.
Worn down by the repeated violence and often still living with the assailant, they have to show great courage in order to cope with all the constant running around and the complexities of the administrative and medical procedures, all the while continuing to undertake the tasks of everyday family life, especially with regard to the children.
APIAF, an organization in Toulouse responsible for the care of women who have suffered domestic violence, said the following: "We should point out here that we are finding it more and more difficult to find emergency accommodation places. Several women have been obliged to go away again without having any proper solution. Temporary provisions, such as a three-day stay in a hotel for women with children, are not very appropriate in situations in which women who have already been rendered vulnerable by the violence they have gone through cannot take the risk of a "false" departure that is not secure".
Up till now national information campaigns on domestic violence have mainly encouraged women to break their silence. The State has not, however, ensured that once the silence has been broken, attention is paid to what such women are saying and that a genuine system is in place to provide them with security, support and compensation for their injuries.
The provision of accommodation and support to women who have suffered domestic violence still raises serious problems. Organizations are overwhelmed with requests and there is less funding. According to the FNSF, "Of the 34 member organizations which replied to our survey, 19 have financial problems: reduced grants, a growing budget deficit, threats of redundancy, and stagnant resources while expenditure is on the increase The deficits and lost funding amount altogether to almost , euros and they are only a part of the whole picture.
On the whole they are in a precarious situation and funding is sluggish. Local funding does not make up for the reduction in state funding and is unstable from one year to another". Despite the promises made by the former Ministry for Equal Opportunities 58 , as well as the Social Cohesion Plan launched by Jean-Louis Borloo, the Minister for Employment, Social Cohesion and Housing, the resources given to organizations specializing in the care of women who have suffered domestic violence have, on the whole, been revised downward.
The State has a duty to put an effective system in place to provide women with access to not only emergency accommodation solutions but also social housing and social and economic support to help them escape from the control of their violent partner. For a case of domestic violence to be acted on by the courts, they must be informed about it. The most effective way of bringing a case to the attention of a public prosecutor's office so that appropriate steps are taken is still to lodge a complaint plainte.
The task of recording a complaint and then transmitting it to the prosecution service falls mainly to police stations. These procedures are still not systematically carried out across the country because police officers do not have the necessary resources and are not given clear guidelines on how to deal with the issue. As Maryvonne Chapalain, Chief of Police at the Paris police headquarters, has pointed out, as soon as the police have received a complaint or declaration main courante [concerning a possible offence], they should call the victim back within the following 48 hours.
She went on to say that this would be ideal if it was systematically implemented. In some cases, the reporting of an offence simply leads to the recording of a declaration main-courante which does not give rise to legal proceedings. This may well be the choice of the woman who may not feel ready to start legal proceedings against her partner or may fear retaliation, or it may be the result of advice given to her by the police who might believe that what took place was too insignificant to warrant lodging a complaint. The Criminal Prosecution Guide on tackling domestic violence states that "if an investigation service is authorized to accept reports of offences, good practice dictates that this task be allocated to investigators who have been trained in the specificities of litigation on domestic violence, in order to be in a better position to give a sympathetic ear to the victim and, on the basis of what she says, assess the seriousness of the situation".
It is essential for genuine follow-up to take place so that these recommendations are implemented in practice. Lodging a complaint at a police station is not the only means of seeking justice.
I got a wide range of responses. After I had been forced to have sexual relations, one of them told me, "Oh, you know, with this kind of thing, in a woman who has already had a child, you can't really see much". A psychiatrist I saw several times because I was depressed refused to mention anything other on the certificate than the days she had seen me.
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Even though she had advised me to leave [my partner]. I had accumulated a certain number of medical certificates but when I asked for a divorce, my own lawyer "advised" me to only submit a few because the judge might criticize me for having agreed to marry him even though he had been violent before". The occurrence of violence within a couple relationship is definitely a criminal offence. The violent act is not especially defined other than in terms of the consequences for the victim or the status of the perpetrator or the victim namely, whether one or the other is a juvenile, has authority over the other, is a spouse, and so on.
Given this, even if there is an aggravating circumstance, an ITT evaluation is still a key component of any judgement. In theory, lawyers involved in cases of domestic violence can put forward any kind of evidence and judges can ask for additional expert opinions or for a preliminary investigation instruction to be opened. Despite the importance of this medical-legal concept in criminal procedure, it is not defined in any legal text and gives rise to very wide-ranging interpretations.
This is all the more so in the case of domestic violence where it is a question of assessing violence that has often taken place over a long period of time and consists of humiliation, denigration and moral and psychological hounding. The type of medical certificate used in the preliminary investigation of a domestic violence case consists of two parts: a description of the injuries inflicted and the ITT evaluation.
It can be issued by a general practitioner, a forensic pathologist or a doctor from an emergency department. Case law from trials has specified that an evaluation of total incapacity for work ITT should assess the consequences any violence has for "work" in the sense of habitual or personal activity, bodily work or any activity, even if not necessarily physical or professional. Not being able to leave your home, for example, ought to be taken into account in such an assessment, whether it is due to a broken leg, a facial bruise that you do not want others to see, or significant psychological trauma.
A's partner pushed her down the stairs at her home so that she fell "head first". A medical certificate stated that there had been a "marital brawl" and found "trauma to the left knee following direct impact". Shortly afterwards, A. While there may be a good deal of variety in the way physical violence is assessed, psychological violence is very rarely taken into account. According to a lawyer who met with Amnesty International, "The main difficulty is psychological violence.
Medical certificates do not talk about it enough and it's a pity that social workers do not talk about it at all! There's too much silence everywhere! The Criminal Prosecution Guide on tackling domestic violence nevertheless gives some guidance on how the medical profession could provide better care to victims. In order to assess the latter in terms of the number of days of total incapacity for work, the practitioner should seek to find out as precisely as possible the correspondence between her psychological suffering and what happens in her everyday life".
It would therefore appear to be crucial in the case of domestic violence to ensure that practitioners are able to see the person again a few days or a week later in order to carry out a second assessment as well as to monitor the condition of the victim. Among other things, this should allow the practitioner to gain a fuller appreciation of the impact the violence has had on the person's everyday life.
Here again, this type of attention needs to be coordinated at a national level and be accompanied by the resources required to implement it.
As Police Chief Maryvonne Chapalain has pointed out, " Everything will depend on the gravity of what has happened If the ITT is low, we will not necessarily go and look for the person ". Urgent reflection therefore needs to be done to find a way of standardizing the way domestic violence is assessed, ensuring in particular that psychological violence is taken into account. When a complaint reaches the public prosecutor's office, it is examined and, depending on its contents, the matter can be closed without further action, an alternative measure to prosecution can be taken, an investigation can be opened or a prosecution can be started.
It is essential, as in the case of Douai, and following the example of other public prosecutor's offices, to stop treating these types of allegations of violence in this way. One of the main reasons why a complaint may be closed without any further action being taken is if there is insufficient evidence or the damage done is deemed to be insignificant or inadequately described.
In order to be able to pursue the case, the public prosecutor's office must be in possession of elements that constitute an offence. Unless there has been a preliminary investigation, a medical certificate and the part concerning the ITT assessment of any violence carried out is often the main evidence available in a case. In practice, in the absence of specific evidence of domestic violence, the public prosecutor's office will close complaints without taking any further action.
Another important reason why this happens can be to do with the attitude of the complainant. She may in the end decide to withdraw her complaint, for example, after receiving threats from her partner or because she thinks the situation can change. Unsettled by the violence she has suffered, a victim's psychological state may be such that she is unable to lodge a coherent complaint and what she says will sometimes be challenged. After spending time in hospital for depression as a result of being subjected to domestic violence by her partner, A.
However, she was discouraged by the police to whom she reported the violence: "My word is no longer worth anything There will always be a mitigating circumstance for the assailant". Despite the fact that she was immobilized for six weeks as a result of the violence, her complaint was closed with no further action being taken. The prosecution service may also make an initial decision to close a complaint without taking further action but later reverse its decision.
It can also decide to pursue a case in which the victim has withdrawn her complaint. There are therefore many possibilities but, nevertheless, according to the organizations, professionals and victims Amnesty International talked to, too many complaints are closed with no further action being taken. Measures other than prosecution may also be considered. This is the case when the requirements for prosecution are not met or the damage done is deemed insufficient to merit prosecution. The first four have the advantage of sending out a warning to the alleged perpetrator that he will be subjected to criminal proceedings if he uses violence again.
But it won't manage to do so without a trial. The current trend of dispensing with trials deprives the law of its very essence. Penal mediation is defined as a measure that seeks to "bring the perpetrator and victim together in order to reach an agreement about methods of reparation, as well as to re-establish ties and encourage, as far as possible, the conditions required for there to be no recurrence of the offence when the parties are summoned to see each other again". Penal mediation can only take place if a complaint has been lodged and the two parties agree to it.
The vast majority of organizations and professionals working in the field of domestic violence oppose the use of penal mediation to deal with it. However, here it is not a question of two parties but of an alleged perpetrator of violence and a victim. Penal mediation allows a solution to conflict to be sought. However, here the question is not one of conflict but rather of violence ". Indeed penal mediation is inappropriate in cases of domestic violence because, on the one hand, it is based on the premise that the two parties are on an equal footing and, on the other, because it does not allow the perpetrator to be informed that he has broken the law, thereby reinforcing his sense of impunity.
After lodging a complaint following two years of repeated violence, A. The mediator told her, "You're not really going to jeopardize this man's career".
Following the mediation, the mediator sent A's partner the following letter to sign: "I, the undersigned, Mr. X, promise that I will no longer be violent towards my partner, Mrs C. I regret the actions I have been accused of". She became depressed and tried to commit suicide. Penal mediation thus implies that the two parties are equally autonomous and able to speak out. However, in cases of domestic violence, women are usually subjected to a system of control which undermines their ability to freely express themselves. Besides, it is rare for a penal mediator to be prepared to intervene in domestic violence issues.
Any citizen can apply to become a penal mediator. The Criminal Prosecution Guide recommends that certain precautions be taken when using this measure, especially if the perpetrator is especially dangerous, the victim appears to be particularly traumatised by the situation, the accused is in total denial or either of the two is opposed to it.
These precautions can only be taken if penal mediators are adequately trained and aware of the difficulties of applying this measure in cases of domestic violence. It is also essential for victims to be informed of their rights and to be accompanied by a lawyer, especially when consenting to penal mediation.
However, the various precautions mentioned imply that the public prosecutor's office is aware of the facts, which is not the case if there has been no preliminary investigation instruction or swift social investigation [of the circumstances of the family]. Amnesty International therefore has serious reservations about using penal mediation in cases of domestic violence.
Other measures, such as reminding the perpetrator of the law, carrying out a swift social investigation [of the circumstances of the family], removing a violent spouse from the home, or indeed ordering the perpetrator of the violence to undergo therapy are more appropriate and should be given preference. In the event that the public prosecutor's office decides to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice, if found guilty, he will be punished in accordance with the sentences laid down in the Criminal Code.
In the end, imprisonment and fines are not often used in cases of domestic violence. Several organizations and lawyers who met with Amnesty International said that many trials for domestic violence still end with suspended sentences. Senator I. For example, in cases of ITT of more than eight days, the average prison sentence is usually less than six months, whereas if the aggravating circumstance were to be applied, the maximum prison sentence would increase to five years ". The Spanish example shows how having a strong policy in this regard can free women to speak out. Since the law on gender-based violence was adopted in Spain in the summer of , there has been a 7.
Male domination of a partner and the use of violence towards that person is common across all social classes, cultures and nationalities. However, certain social constructs, such as those based on place of origin, age or sexual orientation, are sometimes the source of inequalities that may foster or reinforce the hold one partner has over the other. So it is not a matter of regarding these different characteristics as cumulative elements, but rather as elements of a complex system of inequality and domination, in which different forms of discrimination and exclusion overlap and reinforce each other.
Foreign women who are both irregular migrants and victims of domestic violence face many difficulties. They often believe that, by reporting their situation to the justice system, the police or social services, they will risk losing any chance they may have of being allowed to stay in France. Returning to their country of origin in such circumstances means exposing themselves to rejection, ostracism and even threats or attempts on their life, because of a perception that they have failed in their marriage and therefore sullied the dignity of the entire community.
The police and justice system sometimes hold back from responding to this type of violence on grounds of cultural difference. Sexist and controlling behaviour are thus legitimised by social norms which the system would prefer not to take a position on. These interlinked and complex contexts are particularly applicable to migrants, who may be subjected to various forms of discrimination and exclusion at the same time.
Haoua Lamine, President of Femmes de la Terre, Women of the Earth, says that, " in many cases, not having the right of residence is tantamount to having no rights at all. This knowledge prevents people from taking action and is responsible for perpetuating many situations that could be improved ". Although any woman may face domestic violence, foreign women are especially isolated when it happens to them. The isolation experienced by foreign women who are subjected to domestic violence is reinforced by the very real risk of losing their right of residence, especially if it depends on their status as the partner of a French citizen or holder of a residence permit.
Their husbands or partners, aware that the woman is dependent on them for obtaining or renewing their French residence permit, do not hesitate to blackmail them, for example, by threatening to tell the Prefecture that their marriage is one of convenience if they decide to lodge a complaint. They met in Morocco. He promised her the earth, she left everything for him, her country, her job and her family.
She obtained her first residence permit. He soon became violent, would not allow her to work, wanted to make an object of her, including a sexual object. She fled and tried to lodge a complaint against him. At the police station, she was told that it would be sufficient to just make a declaration main courante. She was able to find organizations to help her in the days after she fled, then she found a job and somewhere to live. Little by little, she began to recover from the traumatic experience she had suffered at the hands of her husband. Furious that she did not return to the marital home, he had the marriage annulled, claiming that it was a marriage of convenience.
The prefecture did not renew her residence permit because her marriage had been annulled and told her to leave the country. No longer having a residence permit, she lost her job and her accommodation. She later learned that her husband had married for a third time, using the same ploy on each occasion, without ever being held to account for it". Some men do not want to get saddled with such negotiations and are likely to throw their wife out if she does not behave as they would wish, without being taken to court for so doing.
He sent for her to come to France. She then realized that he already lived with another woman, and that the latter wanted her to work as a domestic help in the house. She had a child, who had French nationality because the father is French and recognized the child as his. The day that Madame D. She found herself out on the street with a child that her husband wanted to take away from her. She had no right of residence. She could obtain it if she could prove that her son was French. For that to happen, the father had to provide documentation, which he refused to do, thinking that it was a good way of keeping her at his mercy".
The law on immigration control, residence of foreign nationals in France and nationality, of 26 November , reduced the validity of residence permits for family members benefiting from family reunification from 10 years to one year. If a relationship breaks down rupture de vie commune within two years of the issuing of a temporary residence permit, the woman can be refused renewal of her permit or have it withdrawn. This new provision, which seeks to ensure that more attention is paid to violence suffered by foreign women, is an important first step.
However, it can only be put into practice if women have access to information and protection and support mechanisms. Foreign women who are victims of violence, irregular migrants or exposed to the risk of losing their residence permit have had their situation regularised, giving them the right to work and a greater chance of finding accommodation and training where necessary, as well as the chance to escape from the clutches of their partner. However, in other regions, several social workers, regional officers and associations told us that such outcomes remain rare.
Many women still have to deal with the lack of awareness of police officers, who refuse to record their complaint on the grounds that they do not have a residence permit, which is against the law. Social workers and health professionals are also not sufficiently informed of the rights these women have or the steps they might take to assist them. There are significant difficulties in getting domestic violence recognized for all women but this is even more the case for foreign women who are irregular migrants.
The state must ensure that information is available to all, in several languages, and that all officials are made aware of the particular nature of this issue. One dimension of family and domestic violence that adds to the difficulties encountered by migrant women is forced marriage, an issue which is all too often ignored or underestimated when considering violence towards women and girls in France.
Forced marriage is a traditional and customary practice that is contrary to fundamental rights and women's rights. To force a woman into a union, whether it be institutional namely, marriage or symbolic, religious or traditional referred to here as "union" , is a denial of her liberty and her right to equality that generally entails serious attacks on her physical and moral integrity.
International law has therefore recognized the principle of free consent to marriage as one of the fundamental principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and many other UN instruments. However, it was only recently, with the adoption, in , of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, that the legal age of marriage was set at 18 for both parties.
Various regional instruments have recently incorporated provisions banning these practices, such as:. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted in , and that came into force in , condemns the marriage and engagement of children;. The Bamako Declaration by African Francophone ministers on the protection of children of 29 March stated that the consent of intending spouses must be freely given and that if this is not the case, the marriage is null and any sexual act will be considered as sexual violence;.
The forced marriage situation in France is very diverse and calls for an appropriately varied response. Those concerned are:. Girls 89 or women with a residence permit in France or of French nationality, who are quite often threatened with forced marriage to a man residing in their country of origin or in that of their parents. The forced marriage may take place during a visit abroad and she may be forced to stay there but it might also take place in France.
Girls or women of foreign origin who come to France to marry a French national or a compatriot.
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Civil marriage, the only officially recognized type of marriage, is regulated by the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure. The man must be over 18 and the woman must be over However, forced marriages have to be detected before that can happen. Whether they are minors or not, these women all need protection, shelter and support in order for their rights to be respected. Rather, he proposes a way for elite women to perfect themselves for social interaction through the practices of reading, reflection, and conversation. Altman, Janet Gurkin.
Bonneau-Avenant, A. Paris: Didier, Bury, Emmanuel. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, Chapelain, Jean. Paris: Imprimerie nationale, Chartier, Roger. Paris: Flammarion, Cohen, Michele. London: Routledge, DeJean, Joan. New York: Columbia UP, D'Orssaud, Suzanne.
La place des femmes dans l'art et la culture : le temps est venu de passer aux actes
Ratcliff College, Du Bosc, Jacques. Paris: Sommaville, Paris: Jean Jost, Paris: PUF, Faret, Nicolas. Paris: Toussaincts du Bray, Fitzgerald, Colleen. University of Saskatchewan, Du Bosc and Fenelon on Women. Barbara J. New York: Garland, Goldsmith, Elizabeth. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, Goodman, Dena. Kettering, Sharon. Oxford: Oxford UP, Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, Lougee, Carolyn. Princeton: Princeton UP, Maclean, Ian. Woman Triumphant: Feminism in French Literature Oxford: Clarendon, Magendie, Maurice.
Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, Mallet, Nicole. Tome I. Les Converstions; Discours de la justice. Paris: Roches, Mesnard, Jean. Moriarty, Michael. Taste and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century France. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, Perrot d'Ablancourt, Nicolas. Roger Zuber. Paris: Marcel Didier, Peters, Jeffrey N. Seifert, Lewis. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, Clair, William and Irmgard Maassen.
Conduct Literature for Women London: Pickering and Chatto, Stanton, Domna. Paris: Lavasseur, Timmermans, Linda. Paris: Champion, Wilkin, Rebecca. Aldershot: Ashgate, Wolfgang, Aurora and Sharon Nell. In another letter, Chapelain describes Du Bosc in printing up his own panegyric to the powerful Cardinal Richelieu to distribute to the appreciative members of the newly formed French Academy Thus, despite Salic law in France, the French had experienced female rule for much of the previous century.
Stanton and Lewis C. See in particular, letter and response 20 in the Nouveau recueil. We believe Du Bosc forges a link between women and letter writing based on his belief that men and women are equally capable of many virtues. Skip to main content. Forgot my passord. This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. What code is in the image?